New Every Morning

Yesterday was a stinker. Pain wracked my body and kept me from being able to enjoy the day, much less be very productive. Last night wasn’t much better and I found myself getting up in the night to take my strongest pain pill to help me try and get some sleep since the pain was doing such a great job at creating insomnia. I don’t like writing about the times when things aren’t going well because I don’t know how it could possibly be encouraging–not to mention I don’t have the mental energy for blogging when I’m in a lot of pain.

Still, I got up at my regular time this morning and ended up poking my head out the front door to see if the FedEx delivery I was expecting yesterday had arrived last night and the guys just missed it during the football game. Instead of a dreary cold morning I was met with a glorious blaze of colors and crispness in the air that boosted my spirits enormously. My day may have not started off the greatest but here was a very clear and present reminder that God was in it and His mercies are new every morning. So this morning I’m grateful not only for my new, more powerful medication to help me cope with the pain but also for the simple reminders that each day is unique, and God’s grace is uniquely suited to each day’s needs. I may not feel great and have low expectations of what can be accomplished today but as my friend James says, “God is always good, and we are in His hands”–and for right now that is enough.  As Elisabeth Elliot would instruct me, I’ll just work on “doing the next thing” and do my best to observe “the sacrament of the present moment” (Jean-Pierre de Caussade) that gives meaning to all I do–or don’t do–today.

I hope your day is not stinky and that you are having a wonderful first day of December! But if you’re not, remember, you’re not alone. Many of us are suffering in one way or another and we will get through this day, one thing at a time, and ultimately “all shall be well” (St. Julian of Norwich).

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Gettting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Chronic Pain edition

Today I thought I’d provide a personal update on how my Rule of Life formation is going in light of a flare-up of back pain. Thankfully, I’ve been free of chronic back pain for eight months since going on a new medication–which has provided the first remission since I was pregnant 18 years ago. However, 12 days ago it flared up and so I’ve been challenged to remember my coping skills. Thankfully it has not been 24/7 pain and so I’ve been able to follow the basics of my simple Rule much of the time but sometimes I’ve forgotten things due to the pain. Since the pain is not constant–which is different from my decades long struggle with chronic back pain–I’m not sure if I’m handling my pain meds the best way so I have finally promised myself to call the doctor’s office when they open today and schedule an appointment for some help with my medication strategy, etc. If things don’t improve, I’ll be needing a massage or two to get my pain levels down and although I enjoy them immensely they aren’t covered by insurance so in my present circumstances they are third line treatment, meds and lifestyle accommodations being the first and second.

Aside from not enjoying this return of something I had hoped might be gone forever, my son graduates from high school in one month and we’ll have grandparents here for five days and, as always, I need to step up my game regarding the level of my housekeeping. Aside from the normal challenges of ongoing decluttering, back pain doesn’t exactly make cleaning the most appealing task in the world. So, I’m having to dip into my old toolbox of tips for living with back pain and come up with some helpful reminders of things other than medication that will allow me to get housework done when my back is being cranky or even outright uncooperative.

My first and best tool is music therapy. I can either put my phone in my pocket and use earbuds or AirPlay the music off our TV (which has the added benefit of giving me access to my husband’s iTunes library; woo hoo!) as well as listen to favorite songs I don’t own via YouTube. This helps put some pep in my step and whether or not I’m capable of singing along while performing my household tasks it definitely makes them go by faster!

Another tool–one particularly helpful when the pain levels are higher and/or I’m just worn out from coping with the pain–is watching something on Netflix in spurts. Currently I’m gearing up for the final season of Person of Interest by going back through all the previous episodes. The way I use this tool is to watch for a set amount of time–e.g., 10 minutes–and then get up and work for a set amount of time–say another 10 minutes. This is really helpful to me as it gets my mind off the pain and I get more done than I usually would with just taking plain reading or music video breaks (although these are also good alternatives to TV). I’ve also found that if I’m rewatching something, as in my current POI situation, I can often just listen to the episode while working at mindless tasks–dishes, laundry, dusting, putting things back where they belong–and this strategy keeps me on my feet longer than I usually would be willing to try. I just have to be careful not to overdo how long I’m working when engaged in a particularly interesting storyline!

The last tool I’ll share today is aromatherapy. Using a wax melt burner continuously with whatever scent seems appropriate for my needs on any given day–or even during a certain segment of the day–has become a daily tool I use even when I don’t have back pain as it assists with improving my mood and energy, something I can always benefit from every day.

Additionally, from my work-in-progress Rule I use the Liturgy of the Hours Divine Office app’s audio option to pray when I’m feeling frazzled and need a boost and want to do something that will help me as well as fit in with my desire to live a more prayerful life. The daytime hours’ offices are often around 10 minutes and so this makes them very doable while I’m experiencing pain or brain fog or even just plain old fatigue.

I hope these ideas have helped. Perhaps you have some of your own that you’d like to share in the comments; I’d love to hear them and I’m sure they’d be welcome by this blog’s readers with chronic illness. Despite whatever physical and/or mental illness you’re struggling with today, I wish you a meaningful and productive day–whatever that may look like with your current limits. Enjoy!

Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Lupus edition

Today’s reblogged post is written by someone who knows the ropes when it comes to managing her lupus. Thanks to Sara Gorman’s innovative, comprehensive approach–detailed in her outstanding book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness (my all-time favorite book on living with chronic illness)–she has been able, over the years of learning to live with lupus, to write a book, blog (Despite Lupus), have two children, and start a home-based business related to her lifestyle (Sara Gorman’s Pillbags). Despite what you might think, she’s no superwoman but rather an extremely realistic person who has accepted her limits and learned how to manage her health so that it supports her life’s priorities, all one step at a time. I thought this post might appeal to my readers who are chronically ill and/or are writers who are chronically struggling with finding time to write.

http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/2016/04/finding-time-to-manage-lupus-just-put.html

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Help

Over the past few weeks I’ve been on new meds and am feeling better than I have in over a year–praise God!–so naturally I’ve been tackling the backlog of chaos around our home. Having energy, motivation, and focus–not to mention less pain–go a long way in my getting things done. So, I’m spurred on to get into a regular routine again for a variety of reasons including that it’s the beginning of school for the last year for our son and so our family routine changes. The following prayer states my intention perfectly. Maybe it will also reflect yours.

“Dear God,

I really would like to simplify [and thereby help stabilize] my life, but I’ve tried before. This time help me actually do it, especially when I don’t feel like it.

Amen.”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!

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